Training course coming to an end

Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
Trip End Jul 24, 2007

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Going into the last week of the training course, I have finally found that my Beijing cough has gotten better and that the training modules have become more interesting and relevant. 
The coughs have kept me from a good night's sleep for the past two weeks.  There were nights that I barely slept a wink because of the violent coughs.  What had made it worse were some of the classes that were less than stimulating.  The thing about the classes is that you never know which class is going to be relevant and useful until the minute the instructor begins the lesson.  There have been a few pleasant surprises, which helped me keep going with the training course.  I even made a suggestion to bring back one of the better instructors, but, as expected, the program went on as planned.
Since last Thursday, however, the classes have gotten a little more interactive and the discussion about teaching approaches finally makes more sense to me.  I can tell that some professors are well versed in active learning and the general techniques about language teaching, such as contextualizing meaning, concept checks, error correction, etc. 
The funny thing about these professors, though, is that they don't practice what they preach.  A professor talks about knowing students' needs before planning the lesson, and yet she apologized in class that she hadn't known what we wanted.  She also discussed the benefit of pair/group work, but she never used them in the teacher training class.  It is as if Chinese professors think that the language learning techniques are limited to teaching Chinese learners.  When it comes to delivering knowledge (as in teacher training), the techniques don't necessarily apply!
Despite that, classes in the last week have been more interesting and useful than those in the first week.  I have also started to purchase materials useful for teaching Chinese as a second language.  In particular, I have found a set of DVDs by Beijing Language and Culture University that contain recordings of live demo lessons.  I watched one episode and found it very close to the CELTA approach.  It also helps that this university is one of the best institutions in Chinese language training.  It would be a great addition to our world languages department.
Tomorrow is the last day of the training course, but I have to wait for a few more days before I can fly home.  I wish the coordinators had let me know the changes to the end date.  What's worse is that the coordinators have been unapologetic!  Hey, I'm learning.  That's part of the purpose of this trip, isn't it?
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